Selina R. Wells, a business broker who owns Nationwide Community Development in  Lathrup Village, said she already had virtual services in place before COVID-19 hit.

Selina R. Wells, a business broker who owns Nationwide Community Development in Lathrup Village, said she already had virtual services in place before COVID-19 hit.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Businesswomen press on amid COVID-19

By: Mary Beth Almond | Metro | Published May 12, 2021

 Sarah Ignash and her husband, David, own All American Pet Resorts Lakeshore in Roseville. They purchased the business six months before COVID-19 hit Michigan.

Sarah Ignash and her husband, David, own All American Pet Resorts Lakeshore in Roseville. They purchased the business six months before COVID-19 hit Michigan.

Photo provided by Sarah Ignash

METRO DETROIT — When COVID-19 hit, local businesswoman Selina R. Wells was ready for it.

As a business broker who owns Nationwide Community Development in Lathrup Village, Wells was already equipped to provide individuals and business owners with legal support and business resources virtually — which became a necessity as COVID-19 spread across Michigan, forcing non-essential businesses to temporarily close as most of the state went into quarantine.

“All of my business services are done virtually, so I was able to do Zoom calls and virtual open houses. I was able to do closings virtually and notarization virtually. COVID did not really affect my particular business because I had systems and processes already in place to still run and thrive during this period,” she said.

Although Wells didn’t have to make too many changes to her business during the pandemic, she had many more hats to wear than ever before.

“Being able to manage the day was very crucial because being an entrepreneur and a mother and a wife and also serving in the ministry helping people, you definitely have to know your priorities and know the order of your household so that it can flow really well,” she said.

During the work day, Wells would attend to her company’s business, but she also had to begin assisting her husband with his holistic healing store, which she said has seen a huge increase in customers hoping to boost their immunity amid COVID-19.

“With my husband’s store, we were up basically night and day delivering tea on our clients’ porches because people were in dire need of natural help to help boost their immune systems,” she said.

The couple has a blended family with three school-age kids, so mitigating the risk of COVID-19 exposure was another big challenge to overcome.

“It was a whole different dynamic because now we had to deal with somebody else’s household, versus what we were doing within our household,” she said. “So we decided that the children would spend a month with their other parent, and then spend one month with us to limit exposure. Typically, it would be every other week.”

 When the children, all teens, were at the couple’s home for the month, Wells said managing the day was critical to making it a success.

“I had check-in times to see what they had done at a certain time of day, and then if there was something they didn’t understand, that’s when we were doing work after the work day. After I got off work, I tended to the school work for any questions, anything that they couldn’t finish throughout the day to make sure that they stayed on top of it,” she said.

After a full day of work at her business, assisting her husband with his store deliveries and an evening spent with the kids on their virtual schoolwork, Wells said there was little time left to prepare meals.

“One thing that I do is make sure that I prep my dinners before the week begins, because of course, I want to have time to do work and help the kids with school, so I prepare my food on Sunday for the rest of the week,” she said.

When it’s time for bed, Wells has put in an extremely full day.

“Women have to manage the details of the day … the little details and pressures of having all those daily assignments done on a daily basis. It’s mentally draining, it’s emotionally draining and it’s physical on our body,” she said. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s by God’s grace.”

Sarah Ignash — who owns All American Pet Resorts Lakeshore in Roseville with her husband, David — said COVID-19 has also brought many challenges to her business.

The couple, she said, purchased the business — which provides boarding, day care and grooming for dogs — from the former owners six months prior to the pandemic.

“We started off and we were at maybe half of where we should have been,” she said. “It’s really hard when you are watching the bank balance go down and down.”

Like much of Michigan, the business was forced to close last March through May, drastically slashing revenue.

When the Pet Resort was allowed to re-open, the couple was forced to make sacrifices to build revenue back up — such as limiting the number of staff members on site at one time, delaying planned projects and temporarily halting pay raises for employees.

Staffing throughout the pandemic has been one of the company’s biggest challenges, according to Ignash.

“People getting sick or having to quarantine has been a struggle. We haven’t had a huge amount of it, but it did happen on occasion, and when it did, somebody would be out from anywhere from two to four weeks, depending on the situation,” she said.

Things were tight for the business — “really tight,” according to Ignash — up until January.

“In December, we decided to go really full force with our SEO and online marketing campaigns. We invested a lot of money that we didn’t have at that time, and it was a real risk, because we felt like some of the other companies were pulling back because they were all in the same boat with us. But Christmas was right around the corner, and we saw that people were actually going to start planning trips, so we just decided to go full force and crossed our fingers, because that could have really put us in the hole. We took a major risk.”

Shortly after, business began to pick up — an indicator that the couple had invested their money wisely.

“We’ve seen the volume growing, and we have been trying to be a couple of weeks ahead of where we think we are going to need new people,” Ignash said.

Over a year after the start of the pandemic, finding new staff members continues to be a struggle, which local experts say is a national trend impacting many industries.

“I was running Indeed and Facebook ads, anything to find qualified people, and I couldn’t find any,” Ignash said.

Thanks to referrals from current employees, the business has been able to hire five new staff members within the past two months and add more shifts to the day to support the increase in customers.

“We are currently having the third best month that this resort has ever had in 13 years,” she said. “Our day care is up 80%, our boarding is just off the charts right now. I don’t even have time to run the numbers to analyze it, but we’ve been averaging about two new customers per day since the beginning of the year. I’m just so grateful.”